X-rays: Are They Safe?


One of the first things you will encounter at Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert is our x-ray machines. These are among our most useful diagnostic tools because they give us pictures of your mouth. A complete set of dental x-rays enables us to find problem areas quickly and detect or track the progression of infections. We receive many questions about x-rays, especially concerning the safety and frequency of exposure to radiation. Here are some of the major concerns.

Are they safe?

Yes, dental x-ray exams are completely safe. We are not using Chernobyl levels of radiation here. The level of radiation exposure is very small, so the risk of harmful side effects is extremely low. You may notice that our x-ray operators leave the room when the machine is taking pictures. That’s because they do this day in and day out, so accumulated radiation exposure could potentially be a problem for them. But just to let you know, we haven’t lost one yet!

How often should I have x-rays taken?

The frequency of getting dental x-rays depends on several factors. Your oral present health, your medical history, your age, and any symptoms of oral disease you may be experiencing all factor into the equation. Some people will need x-rays every six months or so; others may need them only every three years. If you have no current or recent dental or gum disease, you will most likely fall into the latter category. Generally speaking, younger people should have x-rays taken more frequently than adults.

What do x-rays reveal?

X-rays can show us hidden problem areas in your teeth, gums and bones. Cavities, tooth decay, damaged fillings, and impacted wisdom teeth can be hard to detect early on with only a simple visual examination. In addition, x-rays can reveal conditions such as abscesses and infections that are in the soft tissue of your teeth and gums. They also can show us where you have bone loss from missing teeth or disease. X-rays can detect dead nerves in teeth and cysts that may be forming in your mouth. Tracking the growth of cysts can help us appropriately time their surgical removal.

How many kinds of x-rays are there?

We use two main types of x-rays—those where the film is in the mouth, and those where the film is outside the mouth. Intraoral, or inside-the-mouth x-rays, are the kind where we put a small square of x-ray film on a stick and ask you to bite down. These x-rays can show us one or two teeth at a time in close ups. This is the more common type of x-ray.

Extraoral x-rays are taken from outside the mouth to give us a bigger picture of your teeth, gums and bones. A common x-ray of this type is the panoramic x-ray. We can see how your teeth and jaw are aligned, your bite, and your temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

X-ray Vision

Dental x-rays are incredibly important in dentistry because they allow us to see into the teeth, under the gums, and through the bone to detect the source of any problems you are experiencing. If you have any oral pain at all, we strongly encourage you to call for an appointment today. We have flexible hours to accommodate most schedules. We accept most dental insurance plans, and offer discounts if you are uninsured. We also have financing through Care Credit. You don’t need to suffer! Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert is here for your health, safety, and comfort.



Images used under creative commons license (Commerical Use) 07/12/2020  Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash